Livia Drusilla as Ceres
The carving depicts Livia Drusilla, wife of Octavian Augustus and mother of Tiberius, the first matron to receive the title of Augusta and the role model for all subsequent empresses. Her face is presented in profile: her head is veiled and adorned with a crown made of ears of corn, a clear allusion to the goddess Ceres, which often also characterizes ancient portraits of Livia.
The example of Livia/Ceres would later inspire the iconography of many leading matrons of the domus Augusta. On one hand, they were meant to embody the prosperity of the empire - which Ceres symbolized by recalling the richness of the harvest and the agricultural world of early Rome, a theme dear to Augustus' ideology. On the other hand they were to serve as examples of motherhood, another attribute common to the goddess and to the matrons who played a legitimizing function for the successor, like Livia in the case of her first-born son Tiberius, heir to her husband Augustus.
The artifact is the work of an Italian workshop and can be dated to the first half of the 18th century, when this motif was particularly popular, although the exact model that inspired it has never been traced.